Mammoth Lakes Trail System added three more miles of trails to the Sherwins Area this season
There’s still time to check out two of Mammoth’s brand new trails before the snow flies—if you hurry. Mammoth Lakes Trails Coordinator Joel Rathje told The Sheet this week that the two-mile Meadow Trail Connector, which connects the Sherwin Trailhead to the Mammoth Rock Trail, was finished in late October, and the one-mile Mammoth Rock Trail Connector, which joins up the Sherwin Trailhead (otherwise known as the “borrow pit” or “propane tanks”) to the Mammoth Rock Trail, was finished on July 1.
“A lot of people have been using [the new trails],” said Rathje on Monday, November 5. “I am grateful we were able to finish [the Meadow Trail Connector] before winter.”
Rathje described the newest addition to the Mammoth Lakes Trails System (MLTS) as a “hand-built dirt single track trail. Classic rolling contour design was the project description going into it, and it’s the kind of work I love most. Good, hard, simple work.”
Rathje can almost always be found working on his own projects, and a cadre of local volunteers usually lend a hand to get the jobs done. A Trail Days event was held on August 5, which culminated in a ribbon-cutting of the new trail, which was the second new trail segment in the Sherwins Area Recreation Plan (SHARP) completed this season.
Volunteers for that event received Bluesapalooza wrist bands for a night of music, thanks to Mammoth Brewing Company.
Rathje told The Sheet that a big part of the work was completed by the Cal Fire inmate crews from the Owens Valley Conservation Camp in Bishop. “I’ve found that for hand-built trail work [using inmate crews is] an ideal situation,” said Rathje, who noted that the crews typically work on brush-clearing, rock moving and getting the base of the trail established, before trained trail workers come in and do the final touches.
Because the cost of hiring an entire inmate crew comes in at only $226 per day and they bring their own tools, Rathje said, their efforts saved the Mammoth Lakes Trail System (funded by Measure R) a great deal of money. Rathje said trails of this nature “typically come in at about $5 per foot, but we came in at about $2 per foot.”
The total cost of constructing the two new trails (which does not include the cost of environmental review) is currently $14,093, said Rathje, although he expects that final cost will rise slightly due to a few more invoices coming in.
Rathje spoke at Town Council last week about infrared trail counters, 38 of which MLTS installed at various trail points across Mammoth this summer. Data collected from July 1 until October found that trail traffic on the new Mammoth Rock Trail Connector averaged 28.2 hikers daily. Since the Meadow Trail Connector was just finished, no data is yet available for that trail, but after talking with Rathje, I grabbed my pup and my running shoes and went for a jog to check it out.
The trail is lovely, meandering through sage and petite manzanita scrub on the hillside adjacent to the Snowcreek condominiums. It gains about 400 feet in elevation on its way to meet the Mammoth Rock Trail, which overlooks the meadow at the end of Tamarack Street in Old Mammoth. There are multiple bike tracks, footprints and deer tracks crisscrossing the tamped-down dirt and patches of light snow that dotted the trail.
A nice touch was a tree that had been cut into a chair which overlooked the meadow just before the trail joined up with the Mammoth Rock Trail.
And, once the snow settles over Mammoth, Rathje’s got more up his sleeve—MLTS plans to groom an extra three miles of snow trails at Shady Rest this winter, bringing the full extent of the popular groomed trail system to six miles.
MLTS also got approval from the Mammoth Lakes Ranger District to include winter fat biking as one of the allowed activities in Shady Rest, so expect fat bikers to join snowmobilers, snowshoers, cross country skiers and dog walkers in the great outdoors this winter.